Lately I have been the victim of some unprovoked comments about my DMing style on twitter -_-* from people I have not even played RPGs with. (Not naming any names) I can’t place a high value on their uneducated opinion since they have not shared dice and broken pencils with me, but it has gotten me thinking.
Namely…. is there an objective ranking of Dungeon Masters? Who are the REALLY GREAT Dungeon Masters (Game Masters) of the world? After listening to Chris Perkins run the official D&D podcast, I am respectful of his DMing skills. But who is *really* the best? And does good game design/adventure writing ability necessarily translate to good DMing ability?
For me, the best DM I ever played under is still the first. Maybe my memories are just gilded with nostalgia, but I still have fond recollections of the very first adventure I ever played (a modified version of “Keep on the Borderlands”, I later realized). It isn’t often as good as that and when you find a DM like that, you have to hold onto them! I’ve tried throughout my life to become a GM/DM who is capable of providing such a powerful experience to my tablemates.
But anyway — if people can talk about a really good playwright, or a really good actor, they should be able to talk about a really good DM and provide an ‘objective’ ranking of those DMs. The problem with gaming is that there are no agreed-upon critical criteria or even the vocabulary to describe really good GMing. (Furthermore, a single DM can only run usually 8 to 10 players at once, maximum, so you can’t reach as big an audience as other media.) How can we rate DMs? And who are the world’s greatest Dungeon Masters?